Dead horses are bad for business. So, out of self-preservation – and despite calls for transparency, some from within – the industry does all it can to hide its dead, a truth further illustrated in a recent Erie Times-News article on Pennsylvania deaths. Through a right-to-know request, the paper was able to secure information on Presque Isle’s just-completed meet (5/11-9/25). It found that 13 horses lost their lives, 10 while racing. A review of our weekly casualties reveals 14 horses from that meet suffering some sort of negative outcome:
Cryptolight, May 14, vanned off
Between Dreams, Jun 7, fell, DNF
My Jordy, Jun 17, broke down
Kissnatalie, Jul 9, “stopped badly in the stretch”
Miss Stellsie, Jul 24, “fell over backwards,” DNS
Patinka, Jul 30, broke down
Kings Tuesday, Jul 30, fell, DNF
Casanova Kiddo, Jul 30, fell, DNF
Be a Pro, Aug 25, broke down
Scealeile, Aug 25, fell, DNF
Never On Time, Aug 27, vanned off
Goodforyourheart, Sep 2, vanned off
Castle Creeping, Sep 15, vanned off
Don’t Give Way, Sep 18, “stopped badly”
Of the 14, only 3 were reported as “broke down,” which, of course, is a euphemism for dead. But that still leaves 7 unknowns, probably from the above, but who knows. And that’s just the way racing wants it.
In that same article, Penn National spokesman Fred Lipkin claims that in 2013 Penn “had 31 catastrophic racing injuries [the paper says the number is higher] out of 12,799 horses that ran on its dirt track…” There were not 12,799 horses at Penn National last year. Starts, yes, horses, no. There were probably closer to a thousand doing Penn’s bidding. Now, 31 kills out of a 1,000-horse pool tells a significantly different story. And remember, that’s just in-competition, on the dirt – training and turf deaths are not reflected. And those are only the ones reported – how many more were euthanized off-site? How many more, still, were retired to the slaughterhouse?
Racing has been allowed to deflect, distract, and deceive for virtually its entire existence (Exhibit A is calling itself a sport). But we’re here to say, no more. Not only will we continue to put names and faces to their “collateral damage,” but we will also work diligently on providing a true and accurate reckoning of their carnage.